It’s that time of year again: Time to load up your canvas bags with packages and claim your spot in line at the post office. If you’re lucky, you might run into a neighbor or two while waiting in line. Then you can spend your valuable time catching up with old friends, instead of cursing under your breath at the lady who has eight items to be mailed overseas with no customs forms filled out ahead of time.
My husband and I have lots of siblings between us. Lots of siblings translates to lots of nieces and nephews. Of course, they all live in far away states and if I’m not careful, I can spend more on postage than I do on the gifts themselves. Years ago, I started buying strategically light and small gifts. For older kids, gift cards are a welcome gift (all four of my teens agree). For younger kids, craft kits, stickers, and other small gifts can be shipped in a large envelope, skipping the hassle of finding a box that is just the right size and sturdy.
As a kid, I remember the joy of finding a colorful letter in the mailbox; it always made receiving a gift that much more fun. I’ve tried to find colorful envelopes, padded or otherwise, to use for gifts, but anything that’s not the standard yellow can be a bit pricey. (Have you picked up on the fact that I like spending money on the gift, not the packaging and postage?) A few years ago, I stumbled upon a fun way to mail my kid-friendly gifts without breaking the budget. In a word: dollar store gift bags.
Well, it’s four words, but you get the point. A few years ago, while shopping for stocking stuffers in the local dollar store, I noticed a large display of bright, colorful gift bags. Many of them were the exact same size as the pricey, printed envelopes I’d been eyeing at the office supply store. That was the year my new tradition started: Making my own mailing envelopes out of gift bags.
It’s quick and easy and will delight the recipient on the other end, I promise. Here is the basic game plan:
Lay the gift bag out flat and cut off the strings, the bottom panel, and the side panels. Now you are left with the front panel and back panel.
Using mailing tape (the kind in the red dispenser; I swear by this stuff; it’s like my version of my husband’s duct tape), tape the front and back panel together on three sides. Stuff your gift inside, using it like a real envelope. I recommend some fun tissue paper, which makes opening that much more exciting for your recipient.
Tape across the top, making a nice flat edge. To make a label, I use one of two methods. If you have some self-adhesive mailing labels laying around, write your address on one and stick it to the front of the envelope (always remembering to include your return address). If not, cut a square of plain white paper and make your own. Write your addresses on it, center it on the “envelope,” and cover with several strips of the handy dandy packing tape.
There you have it: A fun, colorful envelope that will be snatched out of the mailbox on the other end by excited little hands—and all for just a buck. Now you can use all of that money you’ve just saved to buy a cup of coffee for that long lost neighbor. Because, after all, all of the good stuff you want to catch up on, you probably don’t want overheard in the line at the post office.